I started writing this for the “To Be Continued…” reading. I wanted to write something scary for October/Halloween, but that piece didn’t get beyond its infancy in the half hour I had for lunch. I fell back on this other thing, which is much on my mind.
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It’s after 11pm and I’m in the kitchen with my rabbit upturned on my lap so that I can dry his bottom. We now own the Remington Ionic Ceramic hairdryer (with three speeds and three heat settings) for this purpose. I have never purchased a hairdryer for my own hair, and I can tell Uther isn’t particularly pleased that we have one now. He has retreated into a bunny fugue – the equivalent of la-lah-lah land – and seems unaware of what is transpiring.
I catch a glimpse of a true dust bunny, a rabbit hair tumbleweed as it drifts lazily across the floor and disappears into a heat vent. Guess I know what I’ll be cleaning next. If I can remember.
We’ve been at this for more than thirty minutes. It’s not that the bun started out so wet, either. It’s more that he’s so very incontinent. And something has stimulated his bladder to release its contents over and over and over again. Just when it seems like we’re almost done, there’s another stream. Mostly I catch it in the towel I have swaddled underneath him. Sometimes I miss, though, and we both get sprayed. I am as urine-soaked as he is. Somewhere in his little bunny mind, Uther is laughing, laughing, laughing because this so repays me for all of the indignities through which I have put him.
My rabbit has been broken since mid-August, when the sky fell (a piece of ceiling and the light fixture) while my landlord was renovating the apartment upstairs. I wasn’t there when it happened, but I came home to shattered glass, holes in the ceiling, and a broken bun.
He was slightly gimpy that first night after it happened. He couldn’t always get his right foot underneath him – it would drag ever so slightly behind. I made sure my normally free-range bun spent the night in his cage so as not to further aggravate the injury. But the next day he was worse, and my bunny mothering instincts kicked in and we went to the vet.
X-rays didn’t show any bony fractures, but we were told that soft tissue and spinal damage might not be apparent from the films. Uther was sent home to be on strict bed rest and I was left to worry whether or not he would heal.
As it turns out, not yet. And maybe not ever. Some people say, “These things take time to heal.” Others say, “It’s best to euthanize if they aren’t back to normal after a couple of weeks.” I can’t even imagine the second possibility, so I’m holding out for the first and hoping that he does get better, even if it takes six months.
It is hard though. Much harder for me than it is for him. Most days, Uther’s attitude is the same as it was before he was injured. He is enthusiastic about food and life. He drags himself around with his front legs, back feet out behind, kneeling on his knees. It’s an unnatural position for a bun, and I’m working with him to try and correct it, but as his legs aren’t receiving the messages his brain is sending them, this is difficult. He’s also incredibly stiff on one side and pliable on the other. We spend about fifteen-thirty minutes every night just massaging his legs and feet and moving them to increase his range of motion. I have become a bun therapist to a disabled rabbit.
While Uther has lost a little independence in this process, we have formed a stronger bond. I think all of the wanted or not touching has soothed his savage and growly little soul somewhat. Maybe it feels good, maybe he’s just resigned to it – this is going to happen whether he wants it or not. Or maybe, he’s decided to trust me and let me into his mysterious lapine universe.